Raising EAL outcomes – £2m fund open for applications


A £2 million fund has been launched to find the most effective ways to raise attainment for students who have English as an additional language (EAL).

The funding round is seeking to award grants to up to five projects to trial and evaluate approaches across “large numbers” of English schools.

The fund is being managed by the Education Endowment Foundation, the Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy. 

The trio of charities has previously jointly commissioned research by the University of Oxford into the barriers to achievement for EAL students.

The resulting report revealed huge variation in the results achieved by EAL pupils. While some catch-up with their peers by the age of 16, average attainment figures mask a huge range of different outcomes.

The report showed that certain factors contribute to low-achievement. These include:

  • Belonging to a specific ethnic group. EAL pupils in the ethnic groups of White Other (which includes many from Eastern Europe), Black African and Pakistani have markedly lower outcomes than their peers. 

  • Speakers of Somali, Lingala and Lithuanian have especially low outcomes at age 16.

  • Arriving in England during a key stage. On average, these pupils were 12 months behind their peers.

  • Attending a school outside of London.

The report’s authors called for schools to develop a much better understanding of their EAL pupils – pointing out that the EAL classification gives no indication of a pupil’s proficiency, meaning, for example, that the bilingual child of a French banker is grouped together with a Somali refugee who may not speak English at all.

Last year, more than one million children were categorised as EAL, with local authorities allocating £243 million to schools to support these pupils.

The report also highlighted a lack of high-quality evidence as to what works to boost achievement for different types of EAL pupil – something the new funding round is aiming to address. 

The three funders are inviting applications from not-for-profit organisations including mainstream primary or secondary schools, charities, local authorities or social enterprises. All applicants should have an interest in raising the attainment of EAL pupils.

The findings of the trials will eventually be added to the Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit, a resource which offers accessible summaries of educational research to help inform school spending and intervention strategies.

Dr Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “Improving the attainment of students without English as a first language enables them to thrive and engage with the community and country they live in. In order for schools and teachers to do this most effectively, it’s absolutely vital that they have access to high-quality evidence of what does and doesn’t work.”

Diana Sutton, director of the Bell Foundation, added: “We know that average attainment figures mask a huge range of outcomes for pupils who speak a language in addition to English and that certain groups have especially poor outcomes.”

She added: “I’m delighted that together with the Education Endowment Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy we are able to make a significant commitment to finding the best methods to improve learning for those groups most at risk of underachievement.”

Applications for funding opened on Friday (May 15) and will close on October 1. 

To find out more and to read the guidance notes, go to http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/apply-for-funding/

The full EAL research report can be downloaded at https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/eal-review/

Photo: iStock 


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